A marketing plan is a comprehensive blueprint which outlines an organization’s overall marketing efforts. There are however 5 major components of the marketing plan that can ensure success. Most small businesses tend to become a little fearful of creating a marketing plan after researching and viewing the millions of articles and samples of plans on-line. However, it does not have to be an intimidating endeavor if you think of it in terms of goals you set for your business.
A marketing plan can be woven into your business plan, or as a stand-alone plan. Starting off with a strategic plan allows you to view an immediate vision. A strategic plan is a more short term marketing plan, usually setting goals for a year. Setting a strategic plan allows you to feel as if the goals are more attainable. When planning strategically, remembering to use the 5 components we discuss herein will get you well on your way to organized, focused, and monetarily savvy marketing realities.
The 1st critical part of a successful marketing plan
The first critical part of a successful marketing plan is the company mission. This “company mission” can be thought of as a definition of what the organization is, or what it does: “Our business is …” This definition should not be too narrow, or it will constrict the development of the organization; a too rigorous concentration on the view that “We are in the business of making beaded necklaces,” might have limited its subsequent development into other areas. On the other hand, it should not be too wide or it will become meaningless; “We want to make a profit” is not too helpful in developing specific plans. Nonetheless, the company mission is perhaps the most important part and most largely neglected aspect of many marketing plan.
The 2nd critical part of a successful marketing plan
The second most important aspect of the marketing plan is the market research. Your market research is perhaps one of the most self realization tools you will ever find. It allows you to seriously take a look at your specific industry. Take a close look at other successful businesses similar to your business. Research your competitors and take a look at how they are spending their marketing dollars. Determine if you have a special niche that sets you apart from other businesses like yours. Find out what their niche is and how they are branding themselves. Would you be financially able to duplicate their efforts? How long would you be able to sustain your marketing efforts? Do you notice your competitors spending more dollars marketing in one area over another? Do you have the same target market? These are all questions that bring you to a more focused marketing realization. A focused marketing realization helps you to spend your money in areas where you know it’s going to work instead of spending it on trying to figure out what works.
The 3rd critical part of a successful marketing plan
The third component of a successful marketing plan is your target market. This is a simple task as it’s only a matter of figuring out what your niche is, which you probably already did from the previous step. You then need to figure out if there’s a need for your product or service. If your product or service is something that is needed by others, your goal is to figure out who those people are. For example, if you developed a long hair curling iron, you would not spend your time marketing to bald men. You would probably focus your marketing efforts on targeting women. You can further define your targeted audience by age, perhaps women in the age group of 18-45. Additionally, you can break the target group down even further and focus on geographical locations that have a high sales rank in beauty supplies or even professional stylists. Knowing your target market allows you to focus on groups that may have a high demand for your product.
The 4th and 5th critical part of a successful marketing plan
The fourth and fifth components of the marketing plan work simultaneously together. The fourth element is your financial plan and the fifth component is your concentrated marketing areas. Start by developing a goal of the type of areas you want to market. For example, do you want to concentrate on print advertising, social media advertising, pay-per-click, television, radio, magazines, press releases, or old fashioned word-of-mouth? Perhaps you’d like to focus on all areas. Once you have your goals set for the type of areas you want to focus on, you then need to research each of those areas for cost, quality, and duration. Duration is an important aspect of the research as you want to know that you are going to get the most for your money. For example, through research, you might find that pay-per-click marketing can eat into your budget pretty quickly while not giving you much time for your target market to get to know your brand. You might also find that pay-per-click marketing, while providing lots of visitors to a web-site does not provide profit over how much you are spending to run the campaigns. You may also find that a competitor who may have more financial resources has spent more money that you are able to bidding on clicks which gives them more exposure. Thus, the research into the areas of your marketing goals is a very important factor.
Once you have your concentrated market research finished, you can then plug into the financial realization of your marketing plan. Ask yourself, how much money do you have to spend on marketing as a whole? Then decide what percent you want to spend in each concentrated area with the most going toward information conducted from your research. Figure out how to make the money you have stretch for the duration of the year as part of your strategic plan. For example, if you find that most professional stylists attend a bi-annual styling conference in Las Vegas, dedicate a bulk of your marketing dollars in attending those events where you can gain immediate exposure and quick sales. This would also allow you to place your marketing dollars in several concentrated areas; word-of-mouth, networking, print ads, handing out cards to interested parties, and so forth. You are also reaching the mass as you have access to perhaps thousands of people in your target market that need your product or service.
In closing, it seems like a lot of work developing a successful marketing plan, but in reality it’s a worthy and simple task to accomplish and worth the time investment.